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Deputy Prime Minister for Political System and Internal and Foreign Policy Zoran Pažin made guest appearance on TV Pink’s Argument show. He said that he believes that the first year of work of the Government was very successful, that the boycott of the Parliament by the opposition harms the reputation of Montenegro, that there are abuse of power and attempts by some lawyers to postpone court proceedings in the trial for the criminal offense of attempted terrorism, and that there are attempts to turn the courtroom into political arena, and the Parliament into the courtroom…
Deputy Prime Minister for Political System and Internal and Foreign Policy Zoran Pažin made guest appearance on TV Pink’s Argument show. He said that he believes that the first year of work of the Government was very successful, that the boycott of the Parliament by the opposition harms the reputation of Montenegro, that there are abuse of power and attempts by some lawyers to postpone court proceedings in the trial for the criminal offense of attempted terrorism, and that there are attempts to turn the courtroom into political arena, and the Parliament into the courtroom.
Successful first year of Government’s work
The Deputy Prime Minister assessed that in the first year of work the Government successfully dealt with all challenges, and achieved significant results. He added that this is confirmed by the fact that Montenegro is among the European countries that have the most serious GDP growth, by 4.2% in the previous half year, with 5.1% growth in Q2.
You will agree that such results cannot be achieved by chance, but through serious, committed and well-thought-out work, which now gives results that are good and reliable support for this Government to continue to implement reforms. And we’ll know that we are on the right track when we see that the citizens’ standard of living is improving, because that is, in fact, the essential goal of any reform, the Deputy Prime Minister said.
Montenegro first to join the EU
Speaking about Montenegro’s European integration process, DPM Pažin expressed the expectation that Montenegro will become a member of the European Union before 2025.
I am encouraged by Mr Junker’s words, who said that the EU’s enlargement policy – which we know is one of the most successful EU policies – is not called into question, DPM Pažin said. He added that he was also encouraged by the words that by 2025 one can expect Montenegro, first of all, and then Serbia, to become full-fledged members of the European Union.
The Deputy Prime Minister assessed that much has been achieved since the opening of negotiations in key chapters 23 and 24.
I think that we are in the position today, after 4 years of opening negotiations in these chapters, to conclude that we have done a lot. This is not just the Government’s opinion; it is also the opinion of the European Commission. We have almost fully completed the legislative framework concerning the organisation of justice and fundamental rights and freedoms. We are now in a position to properly implement these laws, which is a very demanding phase. But I am completely convinced that in the next year we can complete all the temporary benchmarks related to Chapters 23 and 24 and in partnership with the European Commission to come to the final benchmarks in these two very important chapters, DPM Pažin said.
We are witnessing attempts to delay judicial proceeding
Asked about the trial for the criminal offense of attempted terrorism, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice welcomed the fact that the trial is open and transparent, adding that open trial was one of the attributes of the fairness of the trial.
Unfortunately, on the other hand, we are witnesses that the open trial has its own, I would say, bad dimension, because we are witnesses of attempts to delay the trial, abuse of procedural authority, disrespect, insulting and disparaging of certain participants in the proceedings, DPM Pažin said.
He added that it is not acceptable to turn the courtroom into political arena or the Parliament into courtroom.
First of all, it is hard not to notice this trend of turning a courtroom into political arena, and, on the other hand, an attempt to turn the Parliament into courtroom. This is something that is quite unacceptable and something that, ultimately, will not serve any purpose if one expects something from such approach to the trial, the Deputy Prime Minister assessed.
Criticizing the electoral process by refusing to participate in its improvement is political absurdity
Asked about the opposition’s decision to boycott the work of the Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Pažin assessed that opposition’s unwillingness to participate in the work of the Parliament Working Group for the implementation of ODIHR’s recommendations is political absurdity.
Albert Camus would say that paradox of absurdity is contained in the fact that the opposition dramatically points to the alleged deficiencies in the democratisation of the electoral process, which again apparently stem from insufficiently good solutions in electoral legislation, but when it gets the opportunity to take part and change these laws – and let’s not forget that the opposition has played a dominant role in the adoption of existing legal solutions – when they have the opportunity to show their knowledge and the good will to change things in favour of citizens, they do not even show the least readiness to take part in that process. I cannot but wonder if this is actually an attempt to create an alibi for some future election defeats.
Let us recall how we came in this situation. We had a government of electoral trust. Not as an expression of the weakness of the then government, but as an expression of the democratic capacity of the government to open up to the opposition parties’ representatives, in order to come to a position that no one disputes future election results. The opposition had key roles in its hands. It was in a position to control everything that was happening at the Cabinet session and, in general, in the organisation of state administration. An appropriate agreement has been reached, which was signed, and one of the elements of this agreement was precisely the recognition of the election results. The elections were held and after the election records were duly signed. We now see, as a new aspect of the obstruction of the political system, the refusal to sign the records. This is now a new kind of destruction of the political process in Montenegro. I’m not going to talk about it now, but I will remind you that after the elections the opposition tried to form the government and it formed it in every local government where they won the majority or managed to agree the majority, but ultimately argued that the democratic process was not legitimate and the boycott of the Parliament had begun. What level of political culture is it if you recognise elections only where you are gaining political profit, DPM Pažin noted.
Asked whether the boycott of the opposition affects the international image of the state, he said: There is no need to escape the fact that this certainly does not contribute to the good image of the state. How can you see it as a good image when fewer than half of the MPs refuse to take part in the work of the Parliament? You have a specific situation that they have agreed to verify their mandates, to withstand all privileges as MPs, while at the same time the have no responsibility towards citizens and do not participate in the work of the Parliament. Yes to privileges, no to obligations. I do not perceive this as responsible approach to politics in advocating the interests of their supporters. Above all, we all bear responsibility towards the citizens. There is no such responsibility in this case.
There is no institutional crisis, Government offers dialogue, but it does not agree to ultimatums
DPM Pažin stressed that he does not consider Montenegro to be in an institutional crisis, and that the current political crisis is being solved through open democratic and political dialogue. He recalled that the Government several times offered such dialogue and that the Prime Minister even went a step further and offered to the civic opposition to participate in the Government. However, the Democratics replied that under no circumstances will they sit down to talk to representatives of the Government. The rest of the civic opposition says they are only ready to talk about the date of repeated elections. This is one kind of ultimatum. The elections were recognised by the whole world, after the results of these elections were announced by the State Election Commission, in accordance with the Montenegrin legal order, in accordance with the Montenegrin Constitution, and cannot be repeated. It is possible to talk about extraordinary elections, but without ultimatums. We are ready for open democratic dialogue without ultimatums, as this is the only way to reach a solution that could mean ending the political crisis.
Speaking about the findings of the investigative bodies on the illegal inflow of money from abroad at the time of last year’s parliamentary elections, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that according to the information that is quite clear, some of this money has come from the neighbourhood countries and the part of the money came directly from payments from some states of the former Soviet Union, and part of that money came through some businessmen in Montenegro. All these questions are seeking to be answered, and the investigative bodies are called upon to answer them.
Source: Government of Montenegro